This is the final portion of our interview with Dr. Mary Flett, the Executive Director of the Center of Aging and Values. After talking through so many challenges that face older adults, and covering many of the cultural and logistical difficulties that older adults enounter, I wanted to know what provides her with optimism and hope.
Finding Optimism in Difficult Times
Ben: It's been a wild few years for so many different reasons. What's giving you hope? What are you optimistic about looking down the road? What are you looking forward to?
Dr. Flett: Every single day. I'm sorry, I don't mean to sound flippant about that, but every day brings something new and beautiful. I give myself permission to just pause and really enjoy the sunrise, and I give myself permission to swear at the television when something pisses me off. And I give myself permission to take a nap, and I give myself permission to experience what life is sharing with me today because I do understand that it could be over very quickly. It's not guaranteed that I have something ahead of me.
I am optimistic because conversations like this, people are popping up all over the place, writing about aging, discovering new things about aging, coming up with solutions to problems, and even promising absolutely astronomical things that will never be delivered. As a result, I know that piece, but the promise gives people hope and I see people caring for one another. I see people creatively addressing issues that nobody even considered two years ago and finding ways to connect with and stay connected to and to help ease the burden of suffering that is just inherent in being human. And on this planet, during this time, I am insanely optimistic about overcoming all of this. Things will be very different. There's no doubt about that. And I think the people who will adjust to that more easily are willing to say what I had was good. I appreciate it. But what I have now is all that I have and what may come. It may bring me joy, may bring me sadness, but I'm willing to find out.